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Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 laptop review

Is it a cpu z hardware info tablet? cpu z hardware info Or cpu z hardware info a cpu z hardware info laptop? Or a netbook?

Chuwi Minibook 2 - image 1
Image credit: Future
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

The Chuwi MiniBook cpu z hardware info 2-in-1 laptop cpu z hardware info is cpu z hardware info an engineering feat but cpu z hardware info probably not what cpu z hardware info we’d cpu z hardware info call a productivity champion. It will cpu z hardware info get heads cpu z hardware info to turn cpu z hardware info but you will definitely get more done on cpu z hardware info a traditional laptop. The cpu z hardware info keyboard and pointing device are cpu z hardware info simply not cpu z hardware info good or comfortable cpu z hardware info enough.

For

  • Affordable
  • Speedy even in its base configuration
  • 2-in-1 works well
  • Type-C compatible with Power Delivery mode

Against

  • Input peripherals are challenging
  • 8-inch is too cramped
  • Battery life could be better
Where cpu z hardware info to cpu z hardware info buy?

Chuwi cpu z hardware info sent us the sample cpu z hardware info and you can cpu z hardware info only cpu z hardware info pre-order cpu z hardware info it from Indiegogo for $430 at the cpu z hardware info time of writing. Various cpu z hardware info models cpu z hardware info are available with the most expensive, based cpu z hardware info on an cpu z hardware info Intel Core m3-8100Y selling for $629 with cpu z hardware info 16GB memory and cpu z hardware info 512GB storage. Both come with cpu z hardware info a 20 cpu z hardware info per cent promotional discount. Note cpu z hardware info that while this price cpu z hardware info includes delivery, it is exclusive of cpu z hardware info any taxes that cpu z hardware info may be levied by the cpu z hardware info relevant cpu z hardware info authorities or the cpu z hardware info courier companies on behalf of cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info vendor.

The success of the cpu z hardware info original GPD cpu z hardware info Pocket computer on Indiegogo in cpu z hardware info 2017 (more cpu z hardware info than cpu z hardware info $3.5m raised from 8,500 backers) cpu z hardware info has cpu z hardware info attracted the attention of one of the more cpu z hardware info ambitious Chinese cpu z hardware info players cpu z hardware info in the market, Chuwi. 

The latter has managed cpu z hardware info to raise nearly cpu z hardware info $500,000 at the time cpu z hardware info of writing (with 40 cpu z hardware info days to go) cpu z hardware info with a similar product, the cpu z hardware info Minibook. But is cpu z hardware info it better than its cpu z hardware info competitor and does it cpu z hardware info have what it takes cpu z hardware info to succeed against more traditional models?

Design

We cpu z hardware info remember fondly the first Asus EEE PC 701 cpu z hardware info from cpu z hardware info 2007, the cpu z hardware info original UMPC (Ultra Mobile Personal cpu z hardware info Computer). It was a head cpu z hardware info turner, captured the imagination cpu z hardware info of cpu z hardware info millions cpu z hardware info and sparked a true computing cpu z hardware info revolution. cpu z hardware info The Minibook is cpu z hardware info the closest to cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info original netbook that we’ve cpu z hardware info seen in years.

Chuwi cpu z hardware info engineers have cpu z hardware info opted for an cpu z hardware info 8-inch cpu z hardware info display rather than a cpu z hardware info 7-inch one; their rationale is cpu z hardware info that it is the ideal cpu z hardware info size for Windows having seen the Chuwi cpu z hardware info Hi8 become one of cpu z hardware info their most popular sellers with more cpu z hardware info than one cpu z hardware info million units. We cpu z hardware info don’t necessarily agree though cpu z hardware info with more on that later.

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 2

(Image credit: Future)

When cpu z hardware info closed, the Minibook looked cpu z hardware info like a book; at 201 x 129 cpu z hardware info x 19.3mm cpu z hardware info for a weight cpu z hardware info of around 662g, cpu z hardware info it is small enough cpu z hardware info to cpu z hardware info be carried around without trouble cpu z hardware info but, pocketable, it cpu z hardware info is not, cpu z hardware info compared cpu z hardware info to say, the cpu z hardware info Gemini cpu z hardware info PDA.

Designers chose a business space grey finish cpu z hardware info for cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info color cpu z hardware info scheme cpu z hardware info and aluminum as the main building material cpu z hardware info for its lightness, toughness and ability cpu z hardware info to dissipate heat cpu z hardware info effectively. The cpu z hardware info build cpu z hardware info quality is cpu z hardware info excellent and there’s no hint of sub-par cpu z hardware info assembly or cpu z hardware info weaknesses in cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info chassis.

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 3

(Image credit: Future)

There’s a microSD cpu z hardware info card reader on cpu z hardware info the right of the device with cpu z hardware info an audio cpu z hardware info connector and a full size cpu z hardware info USB cpu z hardware info 2.0 cpu z hardware info port. The left cpu z hardware info hand side cpu z hardware info houses cpu z hardware info a cpu z hardware info Type-C connector - that cpu z hardware info doubles as cpu z hardware info the charger port - cpu z hardware info a micro HDMI cpu z hardware info connector (which cpu z hardware info is inverted) and a full size cpu z hardware info USB 3.0 port.

Having a USB Type-C connector cpu z hardware info that supports power delivery means cpu z hardware info that you can connect a docking station that cpu z hardware info powers the device and connects it to cpu z hardware info other peripherals. 

The bottom of the Minibook cpu z hardware info contains cpu z hardware info a flap that hides an cpu z hardware info M.2 SSD, four rubber feet cpu z hardware info and cpu z hardware info an air grid. Two hinges hold cpu z hardware info the touchscreen display cpu z hardware info in place. The latter is cpu z hardware info a full HD+ model (1920 cpu z hardware info x 1200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio) cpu z hardware info with a front facing cpu z hardware info 2-megapixel cpu z hardware info camera on cpu z hardware info the left bezel; it flips around cpu z hardware info 360 cpu z hardware info degrees to transform cpu z hardware info into a tablet with cpu z hardware info a footprint similar to cpu z hardware info the iPad cpu z hardware info Mini.

The cpu z hardware info backlit keyboard was cpu z hardware info always going to be a compromise. In cpu z hardware info lieu of cpu z hardware info a touchpad, Chuwi introduced a Super cpu z hardware info Optical Finger cpu z hardware info Navigation (SOFN) cpu z hardware info module which cpu z hardware info is a tiny cpu z hardware info square cpu z hardware info input peripheral. You have cpu z hardware info two cpu z hardware info mouse cpu z hardware info buttons cpu z hardware info as well cpu z hardware info below the cpu z hardware info space cpu z hardware info bar.

Chuwi cpu z hardware info missed cpu z hardware info an cpu z hardware info opportunity by cpu z hardware info not cpu z hardware info including a fingerprint cpu z hardware info sensor cpu z hardware info in cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info power button. There’s also cpu z hardware info no physical audio cpu z hardware info control on cpu z hardware info the laptop; a cpu z hardware info volume rocker would have cpu z hardware info been great.

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 4

(Image credit: Future)
Spec Sheet

The Chuwi cpu z hardware info Minibook that cpu z hardware info was sent cpu z hardware info to us contained the cpu z hardware info following specs:

CPU: Intel Celeron cpu z hardware info N4100

Graphics: UHD cpu z hardware info 600, 700Mhz

RAM: cpu z hardware info 8GB cpu z hardware info LPDDR3 Memory

Screen: 8.0 inch cpu z hardware info FHD Screen cpu z hardware info (1920 x 1200 pixels, cpu z hardware info 16:10 aspect ratio)

Storage: 128GB cpu z hardware info SSD

Ports: M.2 cpu z hardware info SSD Expansion

Connectivity: cpu z hardware info Wi-Fi 2.4G/5G dual band 

Camera: 2.0 MP Front cpu z hardware info Camera

Weight: 662g

Size: 201 cpu z hardware info x 129 cpu z hardware info x 19.3mm (closed)

Battery: 26.6Wh

Hardware

There’s two cpu z hardware info variants of the Minibook; cpu z hardware info one that runs an cpu z hardware info Intel Core M3-8100Y and cpu z hardware info another one cpu z hardware info with cpu z hardware info an cpu z hardware info Intel Celeron cpu z hardware info N4100. Now here’s the cpu z hardware info funny thing, cpu z hardware info on cpu z hardware info paper, the N4100 should be faster than cpu z hardware info the 8100Y as cpu z hardware info it cpu z hardware info has four cores compared cpu z hardware info to cpu z hardware info two for the 8100Y. Both have cpu z hardware info the same cpu z hardware info base cpu z hardware info speed of cpu z hardware info 1.1GHz cpu z hardware info and 4MB of cpu z hardware info cache.

The 8100Y however cpu z hardware info has a much cpu z hardware info higher turbo boost cpu z hardware info speed (3.4GHz vs 2.4GHz) and benefited from cpu z hardware info a cpu z hardware info number of improvements cpu z hardware info as part cpu z hardware info of the Amber Lake architecture series. As such, cpu z hardware info it cpu z hardware info delivers about cpu z hardware info twice the cpu z hardware info performance (as cpu z hardware info measured on Geekbench) on single-core tests and cpu z hardware info matches the N4100 cpu z hardware info on multi-core ones despite cpu z hardware info having half the core count.

Oddly cpu z hardware info enough, the M3 CPU uses cpu z hardware info LPDDR3 while the cpu z hardware info slower N4100 is paired with cpu z hardware info the newer, faster and more cpu z hardware info power efficient LPDDR4 memory. The N4100 comes cpu z hardware info with a SATA SSD cpu z hardware info (128GB cpu z hardware info in our test cpu z hardware info machine) while cpu z hardware info the M3 model features NVMe models cpu z hardware info (up to cpu z hardware info 512GB).

The rest cpu z hardware info of the specification sheet reads as follows: Intel cpu z hardware info 3165 cpu z hardware info Wi-Fi cpu z hardware info module and a 26.6Whr cpu z hardware info battery with cpu z hardware info support cpu z hardware info for PD cpu z hardware info charging which means that you can cpu z hardware info charge it with cpu z hardware info a portable battery cpu z hardware info (or even a smartphone cpu z hardware info charger).

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 5

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

Here’s cpu z hardware info how the Chuwi Minibook performed cpu z hardware info in our suite cpu z hardware info of benchmark tests:

Passmark: 1170.6

Passmark CPU: 2586

CPU-Z: cpu z hardware info 181.8

Geekbench: 1802 (single-core); 5444 cpu z hardware info (multi-core); 14361 (compute)

CrystalDiskMark: cpu z hardware info 141.7 MBps (read); 120.6 cpu z hardware info MBps cpu z hardware info (write)

Novabench: 639

Atto:  240 MBps cpu z hardware info (read, cpu z hardware info 256mb); cpu z hardware info 114 MBps (write, 256mb)

Windows Experience cpu z hardware info Index: 4.5

 Performance and in use 

The Minibook has cpu z hardware info an active cooling cpu z hardware info system and it became cpu z hardware info evident when under load during our cpu z hardware info benchmarks. It has cpu z hardware info a small cpu z hardware info heatsink fan cpu z hardware info which means that there is a perceptible cpu z hardware info whirl when running cpu z hardware info resource-heavy applications.

As expected, cpu z hardware info the device runs on Windows cpu z hardware info 10 and doesn’t come with cpu z hardware info any bloatware cpu z hardware info whatsoever. Chuwi’s diminutive cpu z hardware info laptop performed on cpu z hardware info par cpu z hardware info with other cpu z hardware info N4100 device like cpu z hardware info the Teclast cpu z hardware info X4 cpu z hardware info with cpu z hardware info Geekbench scores that are about half that of cpu z hardware info the Core i5-8250U (single and cpu z hardware info multi-core).

The screen is responsive, bright cpu z hardware info and cpu z hardware info holds its cpu z hardware info own in broad cpu z hardware info daylight with the brightness slider set to cpu z hardware info maximum. cpu z hardware info The keyboard and the cpu z hardware info SOFN cpu z hardware info module performed cpu z hardware info as expected. While the keys cpu z hardware info are generous cpu z hardware info in cpu z hardware info size with good feedback, decent cpu z hardware info travel and spacing between cpu z hardware info then, the lack of a palm cpu z hardware info rest makes touch typing cpu z hardware info near impossible. Function and system keys cpu z hardware info have also had to be cpu z hardware info heavily modified in order cpu z hardware info to fit on the keyboard.

As for cpu z hardware info the SOFN cpu z hardware info module, it requires a cpu z hardware info learning curve, cpu z hardware info which may be cpu z hardware info more cpu z hardware info or less steep depending on cpu z hardware info the user. cpu z hardware info It doesn’t feel cpu z hardware info as intuitive as a cpu z hardware info touchpad and cpu z hardware info it is probably - partly at cpu z hardware info least - why cpu z hardware info Chuwi cpu z hardware info added touchscreen functionality to this device.

When cpu z hardware info it cpu z hardware info came to cpu z hardware info battery life, the cpu z hardware info Minibook proved to be cpu z hardware info a bit of cpu z hardware info a disappointment; cpu z hardware info in our 10 cpu z hardware info hour Youtube cpu z hardware info video cpu z hardware info playback battery cpu z hardware info test, it cpu z hardware info scored only cpu z hardware info 3hr32 minutes. That cpu z hardware info was expected because of the cpu z hardware info small battery.

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 7

(Image credit: Future)

The competition

The cpu z hardware info GPD Pocket 2 doesn’t transform cpu z hardware info into a cpu z hardware info tablet but otherwise boost a similar specification cpu z hardware info to the cpu z hardware info Minibook. It boosts a cpu z hardware info Core M3-8100Y CPU, cpu z hardware info 8GB of cpu z hardware info RAM and 128GB storage with cpu z hardware info a 7-inch full HD cpu z hardware info touchscreen display. At $750, it is significantly cpu z hardware info more expensive cpu z hardware info than the Chuwi Minibook.

The One cpu z hardware info Netbook One cpu z hardware info Mix 2S remains the main rival cpu z hardware info to Chuwi’s candidate. It appears to cpu z hardware info be almost identical but comes cpu z hardware info with a higher price cpu z hardware info tag cpu z hardware info at $800 cpu z hardware info and with a bundled stylus pen cpu z hardware info which cannot cpu z hardware info unfortunately be stored cpu z hardware info inside the netbook. cpu z hardware info An even cpu z hardware info more powerful model with an cpu z hardware info Intel Core i7-8550U is cpu z hardware info available.

Chuwi Minibook 2-in-1 - image 6

(Image credit: Future)

Business take

The Minibook will cpu z hardware info wow those who have cpu z hardware info always cpu z hardware info wanted to use a cpu z hardware info Netbook. It is cpu z hardware info everything a Netbook ever cpu z hardware info was cpu z hardware info and more. It cpu z hardware info can transform into a cpu z hardware info tablet, cpu z hardware info has more cpu z hardware info connectivity options cpu z hardware info than a cpu z hardware info lot of popular Ultrabooks and can even cpu z hardware info be charged by cpu z hardware info a power bank.

The size meant that cpu z hardware info the input peripherals are cpu z hardware info the biggest area of compromise. You will cpu z hardware info need to have a keyboard and a cpu z hardware info mouse (and perhaps a bigger external display) cpu z hardware info to cpu z hardware info make the most of that device.

The alternative cpu z hardware info pointing device works but cpu z hardware info just cpu z hardware info while the keyboard is too cramped to allow cpu z hardware info proper touch typing. Yes cpu z hardware info you cpu z hardware info will probably be cpu z hardware info able to cpu z hardware info do some light cpu z hardware info document editing but forget about cpu z hardware info writing a cpu z hardware info report.Which is why we believe that, cpu z hardware info just like Netbooks quickly cpu z hardware info transitioned cpu z hardware info to 10.1-inch format, the Minibook cpu z hardware info 2 (or cpu z hardware info whatever it will be called) cpu z hardware info will end cpu z hardware info up with a bigger screen, a proper keyboard cpu z hardware info and cpu z hardware info most importantly, cpu z hardware info a touchpad.

We cpu z hardware info also believe that a full HD cpu z hardware info resolution on cpu z hardware info such a small cpu z hardware info screen is cpu z hardware info a bit cpu z hardware info of a waste. 1280 x cpu z hardware info 800 cpu z hardware info pixels cpu z hardware info would have worked, perhaps bumping cpu z hardware info the cpu z hardware info battery life a bit and cpu z hardware info lightening the GPU’s cpu z hardware info load by halving the number of cpu z hardware info pixels displayed.

Everything else cpu z hardware info though: the cpu z hardware info build quality, the processor, cpu z hardware info pricing, storage, memory or the battery life is cpu z hardware info excellent cpu z hardware info otherwise. So much cpu z hardware info so that it is cpu z hardware info difficult to fault it especially cpu z hardware info at this price. cpu z hardware info Business users cpu z hardware info will need to cpu z hardware info bear in mind cpu z hardware info that after sales cpu z hardware info is cpu z hardware info likely cpu z hardware info to be patchy as Chuwi cpu z hardware info doesn’t have the global presence cpu z hardware info as the top cpu z hardware info four or five global PC cpu z hardware info vendors.